Haseen Dillruba: A jumble of problematic perspectives on love and passion

Taapsee Panu and Vikrant Massey try to make this film work

Source: SIFY

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 1.5/5

Monday 05 July 2021

Movie Title

Haseen Dillruba: A jumble of problematic perspectives on love and passion


Vinil Mathew

Star Cast

Taapsee Pannu, Vikrant Massey, Harshvardhan Rane

The film takes you back to Kabir Singh and the embarrassing words by the film’s director justifying violence in a relationship by calling it a sign of passionate love. Taking this toxic mentality a step further, Haseen Dillruba has a dialogue that says— ‘Amar prem wahi hai jispe khoon ke halke halke se cheente ho’ (eternal love is stained with drops of blood).(Spoilers ahead.)

This dialogue is spoken by Rani (Taapsee Pannu) to the investigating cop in a police station. If I remember correctly, she utters this line to justify why she was tolerating violence (murder attempts to be precise!) at the hands of her husband, Rishabh. When she speaks this line, the station bursts into murmurs of appreciation.

In a sense, the attractively packaged film glorifies domestic violence in the name of love and revenge. The film justifies it under the guise of passionate love, twisted characters and what not. But the subtexts of the film (especially related to masculinity and what it takes to win over the woman) are acutely disturbing. How did no one making this film find this problematic?

Written by Kanika Dhillon, directed by Vinil Mathew,and produced by Aanand L Rai and Himanshu Sharma (Raanjhanaa, Tanu weds Manu), the film has other dialogues glorifying violence and toxic behavior in the name of passionate love. However, it’s glaring that the film doesn’t build up any evidence of this kind of deep, crazy, obsessive love between the central characters. At their worst, they don’t get along; at their best, they’re trying to get along.

That apart, the film starts off promisingly, dwindling as it progresses, and ending on the weakest note. 
Rani is set to wed unassuming engineer Rishabh (Vikrant Massey) whose hobbies include repairing the neighbors’ appliances and dabbling in homeopathy. Why does she marry him? Because she has an unfavourable horoscope, no good marriage options, and her aunt reminds her she’s not getting any younger. This was the first red flag in the movie.

When Rani weds Rishabh and moves to the small-town Jwalapur, she is the cheeky, non-conformist daughter-in-law in sleeveless blouses who refuses to make tea or pakodas. Rishabh tries to cover up for her, but it’s clear that they’re a mismatch. He still talks dreamily about a woman he met years ago, and Rani yearns to be with someone dashing and exciting.

Both at odds with each other, things take a turn for the worse when Rani gets involved with Rishabh’s cousin. When a fire breaks out in the house and a severed hand is found, the cops begin investigating. And so, the murder mystery rolls. 
There are similarities to other pulpy murder mysteries (a book as a reference point etc.), with minor similarities to Roald Dahl’s Lamb to the Slaughter.

Incidentally, the film also uses the tired trope of dressing the female protagonist from a very conservative lens. For example, Rani is in sleeveless blouses when she’s being irreverent and in more conservative clothes when she falls in line, so to speak.

Ironically, for a film that treats its female character so poorly, it also makes the female crew shine. Taapsee Pannu’s name leads the cast credits (as it should), and Kanika Dhillon has been given due credit as story, screenplay, dialogue writer, appearing prominently even on the trailer.

These positive points aside, the film is otherwise a jumble of problematic perspectives on love and passion.  

Sonia Chopra is a critic, columnist and screenwriter with over 15 years of experience. She tweets on @soniachopra

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